Wild and alpine strawberries (Fragaria vesca) grow wild in Europe, where they thrive in cool, wooded regions. The small edible fruit are generally tear-shaped and red, yellow or white. The flavour of most is true strawberry with undertones of blackberry. The taste has also been described as strawberry combined with the scent of a lolly shop!
Wild strawberries, also known as ‘Frais des bois’, produce runners and can become weedy in some gardens. They can grow red or white fruit. I have a lovely white fruited form that never grows enough fruit to produce more than a cupful, but is sublime.
The Alpine varieties grow as clumps about 40cm x 40cm, and don’t produce runners. They are fantastic in pots and make a delicious and fragrant border for a vegie or ornamental garden. Alternatively try planting them in a hanging basket. As they grow you’ll be able to easily pick the fruit hanging over the side.
Grow alpine strawberries from seed sown, or clumps divided, in autumn or spring. Divide them every three years anyway, to refresh the soil and stop the plants becoming too woody. Alpine strawberries like the same conditions as other strawberries. In my mild, warm temperate climate, I harvest fruit from spring right through to autumn, and often into winter, depending on the season.
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By: Penny Woodward
First published: March 2020